Thongma Vijitpongpun

Vice Chairman / Chief Executive Officer

Pruksa Holding Public Company Limited

2019

ENTREPRENEUR OF THE YEAR

Thongma Vijitpongpun

ENTREPRENEUR OF THE YEAR

2019

Vice Chairman / Chief Executive Officer

Pruksa Holding Public Company Limited

WORDS FROM THE JURY PANEL

Thongma Vijitpongpun’s rise from poverty into a magnate of the Thai real estate industry is inspiring. The credit he gives to his faith and spirituality, even more so. Thongma firmly believes that the more a person gives, the more they receive. It is a belief that has become part of his leadership personality and company values.

Thongma vijitpongpun

From Fish Maw To Real Estate

Thongma Vijitpongpun, the Executive Vice President and Chief Executive Officer of PRUKSA Holding Company Limited (PSH) was born into an underprivileged family, the son of a fish maw trader in Chonburi province, Thailand. The family was so cash-strapped that 13-year-old Thongma had to stop formal education in grade four in order to work at a soldering shop, to help his father provide for his six other siblings. But Thongma had dreams which drove him to Bangkok at the age of 14, where he worked at a pharmacy and a gold shop. He saved towards English tutoring in the evening after work, and was finally able to attain a general education diploma which enabled him to qualify for high school. Although his interest was in the field of medicine, he decided to take the entrance exam for the engineering faculty at Chulalongkorn University.

Once he graduated with a Bachelor’s degree, the young stalwart worked as an engineer for three to four years until he realised that if he continued being an engineer and earned a salary of merely 15,000 baht, he would only be able to look after himself. In 1985 Thongma established a partnership called Siam Engineering, which undertook subcontracting work. “I didn’t earn much during the first year, I only owned an old pick-up truck that I borrowed three thousand baht from my mother to buy,” he laughs.

It was this first foray into construction, however, which helped build Thongma’s work ethos. “A Taiwanese man I worked with persuaded me to accept my first contracting job. He told me that I had to earn money so I could pay on time, and that taking my employees to the doctor when they were sick was important. These simple priciples are the essence of my business practices today,” says the billionaire.
Thongma’s final project as a contractor was the 230 million baht Old Siam Shopping Plaza in 1992. By this time his eight-year-old business was already worth 50 million baht, and he had already set his sights on the real estate industry, as he had seen the demand for housing in the country. PRUKSA Real Estate Company Limited was established in 1994, with the mission of developing high quality house at reasonable prices. “The name ‘PRUKSA’ means trees and shade. The important key to building houses for other people is the motive of the builder. Developers need to truly want to produce good things, and to want to see customers being able to own homes that suit their purchasing power,” underlines the 62-year-old founder, who, in 2016, was ranked 14th on Forbes Magazine’s ‘Thailand’s 50 Richest List,’ with the collective wealth of 49.9 billion baht. PRUKSA Real Estate is now Thailand’s number one real estate producer.
PRUKSA Real Estate’s first project was the 1994 Ban PRUKSA 1 in Rangsit Klong 8, comprising of 1,000 one-storey townhouses priced at 350,000 baht each. “Quality exceeded the price in that project, so in the end we were only able to break even,” remembers the developer fondly. To date, the corporation has completed approximately 1,000 projects, with another 180 projects on-going. Sales stand at an average of 20,000 units annually. It was not a smooth road to success, however. During the 1997 financial crisis, despite having almost one billion baht in total liabilities, the company had to keep operating in order to deliver houses to customers. Those failures taught the company to work faster by using precast construction technology, and to collect downpayments from buyers to be used as capital.
As a result, PRUKSA has become synonomous with the continuous development of construction technology. The company uses load-bearing wall structure (Tunnel Form) technology which is a construction system that casts walls and slabs in one operation by using wood to form tunnels. It has also adopted precast technology by purchasing the know-how from German company EBAWE Anlagen Technik GmBh, one of the world’s leaders in construction technology. The first PRUKSA precast factory opened in 2004, and continues to develop new construction technologies. In 2008, fully precast construction for low rise condominiums was implemented for the first time. In 2012, PRUKSA REM technology was implemented for the construction of houses. This industrial construction model sees the building operation broken down into different steps by specialists, resulting in more effective quality control for each operational step. In 2012, the implementation of 3D design technology or Building Information Modelling (BIM) helped reduce the number of repetitive steps in an operation, and also increased the accuracy of design. Today, PRUKSA uses BIM together with Project Management Control in their construction, to ensure quality and budget adherence.

 “My uncle would sell a bowl of fish maw soup for one baht, but my dad sold it at half that. My dad said that it was because our customers only had that much money. It was from him that I learnt about the responsibility we have to our customers.” 

Deeply spiritual, Thongma credits dharma (the teachings of Buddha on cosmic law and order) as the secret to his business survival. “Adopting dharma made me calm, allowed me to concentrate, and gave me the wisdom to slowly solve problems, little by little, one by one. The principle of The Noble Eightfold Path is mainly divided into three main categories; ethics, samadhi and wisdom. Ethics consists of right action, right speech and right mind. Samadhi consists right mindfulness and right concentration. And lastly, Wisdom consists of right thought, right effort and right view. I have adopted these ethical principles in my business. I practice right action, right speech and right mind by not taking advantage of customers by delivering them poor quality products, by always building good houses and thinking about how to continue improving in the future,” he says with conviction.

His adherance to those beliefs has certainly worked. Thongma shares, “We are growing continuously. According to the business plan, we expect revenue to be 55 billion baht this year. We aim to grow that up to five hundred billion baht in the next five years.” As a true blue entreprenuer, however, this captain of industry understands that no matter how beautiful success is, it is never sustainable.


In March 2018, the corporation underwent an organizational restructuring to establish PRUKSA Holdings (PSH) as the parent company of PRUKSA Real Estate.The holding company is now looking for new investment opportunities in both premium housing for high-end consumers, and hospitals.


Thongma firmly believes that the more a person gives, the more they receive. It is a belief that has become part of his leadership personality and company values. “Many people might not understand, and it might also sound strange in the business world. But this is how the world really works. When we give without thinking much, we receive friendship in return. So, when we need help, they will come and help us. This is the same with business. When we offer customers good products and services, they become impressed. They will come back to buy from us, keep supporting us, tell their friends, and that is when we are at the receiving end.”


Thongma admits that his father influenced his way of thinking. As he tells it, “My uncle would sell a bowl of fish maw soup for one baht, but my dad sold it at half that. My dad said that it was because our customers only had that much money. It was from him that I learnt about the responsibility we have to our customers.”

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